Ancient Chen Tai Chi is a system of ancient martial science and principal, passed down generations to generations by lineage predecessors of Imperial China. The methods are extracted from the most direct sources of non-commercial Tai Chi Chuan/ Bajiquan from Henan and Beijing, China- restructured and backed by factual research. Proper documentation of feudal martial arts is essential in FEUDAL ACADEMIA- the historical artifact of lineages should not be distorted in modern times for commercial promotions. Preservation of ancient Internal Martial Arts in modern times is achievable with scholarly, scientific, and holistic ways… The profound history of medieval Chen Tai Chi Chuan has roots in Henan Province, China. As with many martial systems of the past, the modern perspective of the art has shifted dramatically from its original context and application. Chen Wangting (9th Generation) was a Ming Dynasty general that founded Chen Style Tai Chi in the 16th Century. During the Ming Dynasty, Chen Wangting served as Commander of the Wen County garrison and protected royal merchants in Henan and Shandong. The historic Taijiquan branching from Chen Wangting was in fact, quite active in the world of armed escort services, even in the lifetime of 17th Generation Chen Fake. In the 17th century, Chen Changxing (14th Generation) synthesized Chen Wangting’s open fist training corpus into two routines that came to be known as Old Frame or Lao Jia. Those two routines are named individually as the First Form (Yilu) and the Second Form (Erlu), also known as Cannonfist. The original feudal Chen Taijiquan Old Frame methods – contain much more obvious rotations and dynamic body skill, than the now commercial “Old Frame Chen Taijiquan” adapted after the popularity of Yang Taijiquan for fitness and cultural sport. The system once utilized the more efficient use of feudal weapons with armor, integrated with empty hand skill, complimenting the essential nature of the military Chen Commanders and guards. Chen Changxing in the 18th century instructed Yang Luchan, who went on to popularize the art inside the Forbidden City, Beijing. The art eventually transitioned through nobility and the PEKING OPERA (1900) tradition, into the gentle exercise Taijiquan we now know today. YANG LUCHAN earned the reputation of “Yang the Invincible” for his military instruction to the Eight Flag Soldiers- the context of this Tai Chi Chuan is quite different from popular interpretation [Yang’s system is labeled as Mianquan- not Taijiquan].
The Chen family system was reserved primarily for military and armed escorts, with entirely different martial context, until 1928- during China’s cultural fitness reform. The feudal Chen System nearly went extinct in the village by the mid-1900s. Chen Yanxi, Chen Fake’s father in fact instructed Chen Taijiquan (labeled feudal Chen Longfist/ Cannonfist) for six years at the household of Qing Commander of the Beiyang New Army (and founder of the modern Chinese police force)- Yuan Shikai. THE MODERN INTERPRETATION OF CHEN TAI CHI HAS UNDERGONE TWO WAVES OF SPORTS MODIFICATIONS. In 1928, Chen Zhaopei (18th Generation) and later his uncle, Chen Fake (17th Generation) moved from Chen Village to teach Chen Tai Chi in Beijing. Chen Fake’s taijiquan reached high levels and maintained accurate biomechanics of feudal framework and application. His expertise in defending Wenxian district from rebellion during the late Qing Dynasty- carried through into the “New Frame” Gongfu Jia Taijiquan system (the system is more practical for non-armored militia and civilians), which later became popularized by his son, Chen Zhaokui. Upon solidifying the art’s status in the martial circles in the mid 19th century, Beijing, Chen Fake introduced Gongfu Jia Chen Taijiquan to the public, which is now labeled New Frame or Xin Jia first and second routines of Chen Tai Chi – the internal methods are among the oldest in the original fighting art of Chen Taijiquan with a strong focus on feudal weapons training and urban application. Chen Fake’s system is unique due to its integration of BAJIQUAN elements popular among armed escorts of the late Qing and Republic of China era. Both medieval Chen Taijiquan and Bajiquan descend from late Ming Era, Qi Jiguang treatise. The feudal Chen Taijiquan is Shaolin military- the empty-hand methods of feudal Bajiquan are very much a part of Beijing Gongfu Jia Taiji. The system became more prominent in the Beijing tradition through Chen Fake’s son, Chen Zhaokui (18th Generation), and then through Chen Zhaokui’s son, Chen Yu (19th Generation). The Beijing-style Chen Taijiquan is unique in its form and function, in relation to other lines of Chen Tai Chi Chuan. The system retains more of the ancient military art, with practicality for urban environments in non-sport settings. The biomechanics are much more nuanced and methodical.